Roger MacKenzie has covered a lot of ground on this season on Outlander. He’s traveled through the stones and across an ocean in search of Brianna. And just as Roger and Bree finally found each other through time and space, they were quickly torn apart again, and Roger was forced to work on Stephen Bonnet’s ship as it traveled up the coast of colonial America. A horrible misunderstanding prevents a second reunion for the couple, and sets into motion Roger’s most recent journey with the Mohawk people, who marched him from North Carolina to New York state in captivity.
In “Providence,” Roger has an opportunity to escape the Mohawk village, but instead, he returns to help his friend and fellow prisoner, a priest named Father Alexandre, played by French actor Yan Tual. The resulting scene, in which Roger hastens Alexandre’s death, ending what would have been days of suffering, is quite shocking.
T&C spoke with actor Richard Rankin on what it was like filming the explosive scene, how he feels about the ongoing debate over Roger’s likability, and the show’s passionate fans, below.
The final scene of this episode is so shocking to watch. What was it like to film?
That was a strange one to shoot because there was a lot going on—it was complicated. There was a lot I had to process as the character. First of all, I don’t think Roger really knew how he was going to intervene, how he was going to help. He just thought he had to. There is something in him, inherent, that he has to help in any sort of situation of peril or anyone in distress.
What he ultimately is able do is give the father a speedy death. Otherwise he would just be on that pyre for days and days, and would have had a very slow, agonizing death. What Roger unfortunately didn’t foresee is that his actions would also give an escape to the father’s wife. She climbs aboard the fire and burns to death herself.
Roger escapes from captivity, but he comes back to help Father Alexandre. What do you think of that decision?
I think that’s just indicative of Roger’s character. I think there’s this overwhelming compassion in him to help other people in need. He wants to escape, and he’s telling himself not to be stupid. He’s saying to himself, “Roger, this is what you do time and time again. You find yourself in these situations; you should turn a blind eye; you know what the out is here, take it.” And he doesn’t because he can’t. There’s just something in him that needs to help people.
And that’s what draws him back, even though ultimately, it could be the end of Roger. With Father Alexandre, I think Roger sees that he is as such a good man with such a tragic story. He thinks the least that he can do is go back. At that point, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do to, but it turns out that a quick death is the best that he can give him.